Business of the month
Ruth Wood talks to two friends who travelled 12,000 miles to pursue their dream of running a luxury B&B in France
A château B&B in Deux-sèvres
When friends June and Patsy saw Château d’og for the first time, it was beyond anything they had anticipated. Situated in the picturesque village of Fors in Deux-sèvres, with its turrets stretching into the sky, the 19th-century building was straight out of a fairytale.
The pair bought the well-established luxury chambres d’hôtes, near Niort, two years ago and went into business together, having decided to relocate from New Zealand.
On arrival, it became clear the grounds were quite neglected, so extensive works were undertaken clearing these, creating a smart driveway, easy-to-maintain gardens and an attractive terrace.
Although June and Patsy had never run a B&B, they did have relevant experience between them in real estate, retail and hospitality. In the short time they’ve run the château, they have achieved two excellent guest review awards on Booking.com, highlighting the improvements they have made to guest experiences.
“People want to relax and enjoy quality time when on holiday and Château d’og offers tranquility in a charming location and environment,” says June. “Offering high standards of hospitality and service means guests leave feeling refreshed and more often than not return to stay again. We tend to be busy from about April to September/october, but it’s a pretty comfortable job for two people and you could easily close down in the colder months and take a long holiday.”
The château, a former cognac distillery dating back to the 1890s, has four guest suites, all with ensuites – two with two bedrooms and two with family rooms. On the ground floor is a guest lounge, leading to a circular turret breakfast room and a small kitchen. Adjoining here is a self-contained two-bedroom apartment with its own access to the road and courtyard. This could easily be used for guests who want to stay longer or as a short/ long-term rental independent of the B&B.
The owners’ quarters are in a separate part of the château, with a large kitchen in a turret, a lounge and a bedroom. The semi-rural French village of Fors is just a short drive from the supermarket in Aiffres, while the city of Niort is less than 20 minutes away.
Guests love visiting the Marais Poitevin (a nearby wetland known as La Venise Verte or Green Venice), coastal hotspots such as La Rochelle and the Puy-du-fou, a popular historical theme park.
The friends are reluctantly putting the château on the market, for €485,000, due to ill health; but they are sure new owners will love it and its charm just as much as they do.
“Château d’og is a long-established B&B with some great reviews,” says June. “When you live here all the time, you do start to take it for granted, but we are often reminded of how special it is, by guests who are simply mesmerised by our château and its grounds.”
000 485, €